Account Based Ticketing: Trends, Pain Points and Innovations

13 March 2023

Transport Ticketing GlobalAndreea Reardon, Chief Product and Technology Officer, lets us in on the future of Account Based Ticketing (ABT) and how it’s bringing frictionless travel to passengers, following her recent appearance at Transport Ticketing Global (TTG).

In case you couldn’t be there, Andreea shared what was discussed at her panel discussion, covering what makes for a successful ABT implementation and how it’s helping operators rebuild customer numbers after the pandemic.


What is Account Based Ticketing?

Account Based Ticketing, in its simplest form, removes the necessity for passengers to understand what type of ticket they need to buy before travelling. So, what does that mean? It means that it doesn’t matter whether you pay for travel with your contactless card, mobile phone or another method, it’s all consolidated in the back end of an operator’s ticketing system into one simple account. It opens up frictionless travel and removes barriers to public transport, so passengers can just turn up and travel.

What trends are on the horizon for Account Based Ticketing?

The key trend for Account Based Ticketing is there will be much more of it! ABT is an enabler for pay as you go implementations and Mobility as a Service (MaaS), so it will naturally evolve alongside these. We have noticed travel patterns and behaviours changing post pandemic and passengers are now more inclined to want flexibility when it comes to their travel.

Traditional season tickets are not necessarily as popular as they used to be pre-pandemic, with less people commuting daily. Therefore, ways of travel and payment methods have had to adapt. Account Based Ticketing resolves that flexibility challenge where you can help the passenger by removing the need to pre-purchase tickets because the fare calculation is done in the backend for them based on the travel performed. When it comes to more adoption of Account Based Ticketing solutions, both by public transport operators and authorities, we’ll definitely be seeing more and more being rolled out.

What the biggest pain point that abt solves for operators?

It can help increase ridership and simplify the customer proposition. From experience, transport operators can have complicated sets of fares with a large number of ticket types, which can be daunting for passengers travelling because they don’t understand what ticket they need to buy for their journey. ABT can resolve some of this complexity. This does not mean that ABT should encourage a complex fare setup. On the contrary, it is recommended to keep the customer proposition as simple and clear as possible. By keeping it simple, it builds the passenger’s trust that they will be charged the right fare. It will therefore encourage travel and passengers back on public transport services. Pre-purchase of tickets for travel is tailored to commuters with a good understanding of the network. With Account Based Ticketing, anyone without prior knowledge of the network can board the bus and travel, knowing they are getting the right ticket without having to plan ahead. It helps encourage infrequent travellers and even tourists to use public transport more frequently and hopefully bring more riders onto services

What is Ticketer doing with Account Based Ticketing?

Ticketer is actively trying to support Account Based Ticketing with a few great initiatives in this space. We are enabling public transport operators and local authorities with additional pieces of kit, such as our Tap Off Readers, to allow Tap On / Tap Off schemes. This opens up a whole world of opportunity in terms of data collection and analysis. Not only does it provide information on where people get on a bus, but also where they get off. It gives a more granular view of the journey patterns, the passenger behaviours and how the different methods of payments are being used across the network. Our Tap Off Reader supports EMV payments and we’re also introducing ITSO and QR, so it gives a variety of travel options for customers to use in a Tap On / Tap Off environment.

We are also doing a lot of work in the fares space to remove the complexity of the traditional fare triangles. In fact, we’re currently piloting a new way of calculating fares where we’ve introduced distance-based fares. This involves dynamically calculating a fare based on the distance a passenger has travelled. We are always looking at different, innovative ways to contribute to the whole Account Based Ticketing ecosystem and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What was the most interesting bit of the TTG panel discussion?

There was an acknowledgment of the lessons learned from ABT implementations in the panel discussion. There were two key themes:

1. How do you build customer trust? And how do you simplify the customer proposition? Account Based Ticketing is all about passenger trust, with the knowledge that you’re going to calculate the right fare for their travel. We heard about two implementations, one with 500+ fare types and another with 3000+ fares. It’s really about how you focus on simplifying your fare and customer proposition to build that. There’s a need to make it easier for people to understand what they’re going to be charged if they travel using ABT.

2. How ABT changes the operational model for PTO’s and PTA’s. We’re moving from a pre-purchase model, where if the customer has an issue, they might just interact with the driver and try to resolve it. Transport operators and authorities now find themselves needing to introduce a different customer support model. It’s all post travel. It’s about getting access to the information as well. From a change management perspective within the operator or local authorities, ABT gives the push to rethink how we do things.

Some of the things we have won


Received 'Most Innovative Public Transport Technology 2022' award, by the UK Transport Awards.

Winners of the 2022 Euro Bus Expo Innovation Challenge Bronze Award.

Winners of the 'ROSCO Silver Award for Contribution to Safer Driving' 2022

Profit Track 100 2021

Ranked in The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100, acknowledging the impressive performance and contributions of the featured companies to the economy and society during the pandemic

Transport Ticketing

Winner of the Transport Ticketing Awards 2021 'Digital Champion' Category

Ticketer Award Megabuyte

Listed as 3rd in the Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards which recognise the top 25 best-performing scale-up Companies of the Year in the UK, for industry-specific software

Ones to Watch award

Named as “One to Watch” in the European Business Awards

Ticketer Award Thames Valley

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year & High Growth Business of the Year

Gold Winner of the Coach and Bus Innovation Challenge 2019 for our passenger app Kazoot

Read more on our press page

Join the Ticketer journey

Let's go!